DAVID BECKHAM’S World Cup dream was shattered in Milan last night after suffering a horrific Achilles tendon injury which could keep him out for six months.
The 34-year-old had to be stretchered off after collapsing in agony without any contact during AC Milan’s game with Chievo.
He will now fly out to Finland this morning to undergo emergency surgery.
England boss Fabio Capello and his assistant Franco Baldini both called the club to offer Beckham their sympathy, but have already been told to plan for South Africa without him.
“Beckham’s injury makes us feel terrible,” said Milan coach Leonardo after his side’s 1-0 victory. “He is an extraordinary guy and today’s game proves it yet again.
“I cannot enjoy this evening considering this serious injury. David understood immediately that he had torn his Achilles tendon.”
Beckham joined Milan for a second loan spell from LA Galaxy back in January in a bid to prove his fitness to Capello and increase his chances of being appearing in a fourth World Cup and maybe winning the ten caps needed to equal Peter Shilton’s 125-cap record.
Instead, the ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid star now begins on a long road to recovery.
While Beckham wasn’t expected to start as England’s No1 choice right midfielder in South Africa, his place in Capello’s final 23 was pretty much set in stone given the inspirational influence he has on his fellow team-mates.
This is the latest blow to Capello’s flailing World Cup plans. The Italian has already lost left-back Wayne Bridge in the wake of the John Terry scandal, and is still sweating over the fitness of another right-sided player, Aaron Lennon, plus full-backs Ashley Cole and Wes Brown.